More than 50 people held a rally downtown on Thursday afternoon to send the message that transphobia has no place in School District 57 schools or on the district’s board of education.
The rally was held outside the Q3 Space office on Third Avenue, where outspoken B.C anti-trans activist Chris ‘Billboard Chris’ Elston was expected to endorse a candidate running in the Jan. 15 School District 57 byelection.
Jean Baptiste, who identifies as two-spirit, said the rights of trans children shouldn’t be used by self-serving politicians looking to score points with conservative voters.
“I have been trans in this community for a long time. We have always been here, transphobia hasn’t,” Baptiste said. “That guy in there is being paid to trash us.”
Trans students shouldn’t have to be afraid to go to school or use of the washroom, Baptiste said.
“We need to be safe in our community.”
That’s something secondary school student Jamie Parker knows well. Parker came out as trans about a year ago.
“I am lucky my mother supported me when I came out as trans,” Parker said.
Many trans people don’t come out because they are afraid their family, friends and others around them won’t support them, Parker said.
After making the transition, Parker faced hatred and bullying, especially online.
Mom Serena Parker said before Jamie made the transition, she was worried she’d lose her child to depression and suicide.
“I think it’s very, very important for trans kids to be accepted,” Jamie Parker said. “There is no reason children or adults should be hated because they are trans. It’s not hurting you. (Just) call us what we want to be called.”
The rally was organized by Audrey McKinnon, a candidate running for trustee in the Jan. 15 byelection.
“This kind of rhetoric does not belong in our community and it definitely does not belong on our school board,” McKinnon said. “Every child in our schools deserves to feel they belong.”
Former local Prince George-Valemount Green Party candidate Mackenzie Kerr said during the 2020 provincial election, Elston repeatedly crashed campaign events held by one of her Green Party colleagues, Coquitlam-Maillardville Green Party candidate Nicola Spurling, to promote his anti-trans agenda.
Elston’s behaviour promoted Spurling’s rivals in the riding, NDP incumbent Selina Robinson and Liberal candidate Will Davis, to join Spurling in a bipartisan rally for LGBTQ rights, the CBC reported in October 2020.
Transphobic hate “does not belong in our education system” Kerr said, and urged everyone to get out and vote on Jan. 15 to send that message loud and clear.
Former UNBC professor Stuart Parker announced his candidacy at the event Elston attended, CKPG reported.
Parker resigned as leader of the B.C. Ecosocialist Party in September 2020 after several social media comments he made were denounced as transphobic resulting in public calls for his resignation, The Tyee reported.